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Most With Diabetes Not Exercising

Research Shows Importance of Exercise to Prevent Diabetes, Manage Symptoms
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 26, 2007 -- Exercise is among the best things people with diabetes can do to manage their disease, but most either are not getting the message or are ignoring it, a new report confirms.

Only 39% of surveyed adults with diabetes engaged in regular physical activity, compared with 58% of adults who did not have the disease, according to a report in the February issue of Diabetes Care.

And activity levels declined as risk factors for type 2 diabetes increased.

The national survey of more than 23,000 adults with diabetes, those at high risk for the disease, and people without diabetes was conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

Lead researcher Elaine Morrato, MPH, DRPH, tells WebMD she was not surprised to find that those with diabetes were more sedentary than the general public. But she was surprised so few at-risk people were physically active.

“Exercise has been shown to be instrumental in preventing diabetes among people at high risk and in helping to manage symptoms in people with the disease,” she says.

Troubling Findings

Study after study has confirmed that regular exercise, combined with modest weight loss and a healthy diet, can lower type 2 diabetes risk and improve outcomes once people have the disease.

In one of the most persuasive, researchers from the Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group concluded that diet and regular exercise were more effective than one of the most widely prescribed drug treatments for preventing type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise, at least five times a week. Prevention guidelines released by the ADA last August recommend 2.5 hours of regular physical activity a week.

People at high risk for developing diabetes should be even more physically active, depending on their ability to exercise.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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